How to install an APK on an Android device

There are hundreds of thousands of apps available for Android. Most of the time you’ll be installing them through the Play Store directly onto your device.

But sometimes you may find yourself with an APK file—an Android app that you need to sideload and install manually. You’ll need to do this if you wanted to install the Amazon Appstore on your device, as well as any apps from Amazon too. Here’s how to do it.

Sideload the APK

If you haven’t downloaded the .apk file straight to your device you’ll need to copy it over from your desktop first.

Connect your phone or tablet to your desktop via USB and drag it into the storage area. Once it has finishing copying over eject the device if necessary.

You now need to locate the file on your phone. You will need a file explorer to do this. Some devices have them built-in; for others go to the Play Store and download Sliding Explorer for free.

Navigate to the location you copied the file to—in most cases this will be labelled as sdcard (even if your device doesn’t support an external card). Find the file and tap it.

Allow Unknown Sources

By default apps from outside of the Play Store are blocked—this is a security measure. When prompted tap Settings and tick the box labelled Unknown Sources. Confirm, then tap the back button on your device.


You can now tap the APK file again. This time you’ll see the Install screen listing the app’s required permissions. To finish installing, tap the Install button.

Security precautions

You should always be careful when installing sideloaded apps to your phone. The overwhelming majority of malware on Android comes from outside of the Play Store, with as much as a third of all apps from third party stores being infected.

You should also note that if you sideload an app you won’t get updates for it through the Play Store.

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